A meditation on Matthew 5:38-48 and Matt 25:35
How many times do I have to turn the other cheek? How many times do I have to forgive? How many times do I have to welcome the stranger? How many times do I have to give drink to the thirsty? How many times do I have to feed the hungry?
I know very good people who grew very worn out by working with the homeless and poor and just got into safer occupations. The stress was just too much. I also know people who bought a gun to defend themselves because the stress of living in their neighborhood was just too much.
But when Jesus said “love your enemy” he didn’t mean one time. When he said “turn the other cheek” or “go the extra mile” he didn’t mean until you get tired of it. He said do it as a child of God. Do it because your heavenly father is perfect. God’s perfection is enough to absorb all the hatred and fear and fatigue in the world. His perfection keeps his children from ever exhausting His love. Notice I say His love. Knowing what Jesus wants means knowing we don’t have it on our own. We are never enough alone.
Being an advocate in the area for tent cities means being lied about. It means standing up for the unsheltered while the city says “there are plenty of shelters and space available.” It means being called a lot of names and having to be patient through a lot of confusion. Being an advocate in addition to being a pastor to the poor is exhausting. This morning I was up at 5:30am and on the radio live at 7am to answer call in questions patiently. I feel like I say the same things over and over and it still seems to be so confusing. But God’s supply is not exhausted. So I gotta just go back to God on my knees.
I can’t love my neighbor let alone my enemy but God’s perfection is never exhausted. I can’t give enough to all the poor to keep them provided for until they die, but God’s supply is never exhausted. And being anything less than a son in God’s family is not an option. Some people say of themselves, “I’m a bad Christian” but I say, leave it up to God to judge. Jesus came to set you free and if you want freedom then don’t settle for anything less. This world will eat you alive and leave nothing left of your memory. But God loved this sinful world and doesn’t consider it so far gone that you can’t be saved.
In a world where people couldn’t care less, be someone who couldn’t care more. Be someone who inspires hope in people that there are Christians trying to do what Jesus said, in the Spirit of Christ.